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After trying out a half-dozen hosting providers, I settled on one that I’ll call ACME. Among other things, I selected ACME for its following two features:

  1. Hosting for virtually unlimited domains on a single hosting plan
  2. Free unlimited number of mail boxes, each with virtually unlimited storage (subject only to the overage storage limit under the selected hosting plan)

These two features were strong differentiators for ACME when I signed up for it. Apparently, they’re not widely available from other hosting providers even now because, whenever I talk about them, many people find them unique to ACME.

I also use these features extensively – as you can see from the following screengab of the Mail section of ACME’s control panel, I’ve over 70 mail boxes.

The above USPs that attracted me to ACME have made me loyal to ACME – a decade after I selected ACME, I still host all my personal and business websites on ACME.

Not only that, I keep talking about them to many people. Ironically, without any explicit loyalty program, ACME has cracked the Holy Grail of modern loyalty programs.

While the first USP of ACME will only appeal to people who own multiple domain names and websites, the second USP is more broadly useful because everyone – individual or company – needs email, typically one mail box per employee. And many people whom I’ve recommended ACME to have signed up for it, primarily attracted by its offer of free mail boxes.

That’s why I was stunned to see the following “banner ad” on the email section of ACME’s control panel recently.

“Upgrade to Professional Gmail”, proclaimed the ad.

I thought, what the heck, people are choosing ACME because of its offer of free mail boxes, why would they want to move to Gmail.

Turns out the operative term in the ad copy is “Professional”.

While ACME provides mail boxes, its three web apps for viewing emails  – horde, roundcube and SquirrelMail – are a bit scrappy.

I noticed their poor UI right in the beginning and never used them. Instead, I’ve been using Microsoft Outlook as my email client from Day One of signing up with ACME. You can’t get more professional than that. Therefore, I’ve never felt the need for Gmail or any other email service provider.

However, that’s only me.

Outlook is de riguer in the enterprise world but many startups don’t have much love for Microsoft Windows in general and MS Office in particular. Many of them prefer the open-source Linux / Ubuntu and Libre Office, which are free. They don’t have Outlook and, in its absence, they’re compelled to use frontends like horde, which do look unprofessional. Ergo, the relatively more professional-looking Gmail will appeal to them.

Ergo upgrading to Gmail is worth it for the market segment that doesn’t have Outlook or a another professional email client.

As for me, I’m happy with my free ACME mailboxes and perpetual-license of Outlook that I bought many years ago.

In this day and age of sophisticated audience targeting, ACME might want to check what email client its users use and then take a decision whether to target its banner ad to them or not – instead of showing it to all and sundry and shocking some of them like me!

Ketharaman Swaminathan On May - 12 - 2017

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IT Marketing, Product, Uncategorized

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